THE bar is at 5.05 metres as Bendigo-based pole vaulting ace James Woods fires up to qualify for this year's world junior track and field championships in Colombia.
To wear the green and gold in Cali in early August is a goal Woods is determined to achieve.
A personal best is 4.95m, so upcoming rounds of Athletics Victoria Shield League, state titles and national championships are where Woods aims to be at his best.
Just days after celebrating his 19th birthday, Woods spoke about the challenges of competition, training, and goals for '22.
His most recent hit-out was the Zatopek 10 meet on Australia Day at Melbourne's Lakeside Stadium.
Woods soared 4.85m and team-mate Lara Wittey, from Box Hill, cleared 3.65m to claim the Steve Hooker pole vault challenge.
It was a hat-trick of wins for Woods, who in previous campaigns was a member of South Bendigo Athletics Club and is now with Keilor-St Bernards.
"It was an incredible feeling to win again," Woods said.
"Lara achieved a personal best and to win against such quality competition meant a lot for both of us."
The field for the Steve Hooker challenge included Matthew Hosie and Tamara Mancuso, combined height of 8.40; Joel Pocklington and Sarah Melson, 8.30; Andrew Bull and Cassidy Bradshaw, 8.25; Dalton Di Medio and Abigail Delia, 8.05m.
Also in the 10-team field were Liam Harris, Kate Abfalter and Andre Di Medio.
Read more: Young gun Stubbs hammers record again
For Woods, training is not just at the athletics track, but also in the gym.
"There's jumping sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, and then gym workouts three times a week," he said.
The work he has done in the gym is clearly shown in his arms, quads, and shoulders.
"Pole vault is a lot about power, technique and timing," Woods said.
He is now coached by Bill Georgantas and is competing with Keilor St Bernards in AVSL and Rare Air meets.
Sessions with Georgantas are at Aberfeldie or Greensborough, so there is a fair amount of travelling from Bendigo involved for Woods.
"We have been working a fair bit on refining my technique. There have been improvements, but there's still a lot to do, especially to reach 5.05 metres," he said.
Woods is not fazed by the hard work.
"To vault at the world under-20s in Colombia is what I really want to achieve this year."
His determination is shown by setting up a GoFundMe page to help push along his championships quest.
Major off-track players are parents Andrea and Glenn.
"They have given me incredible support since I started in athletics," Woods said.
Competition targets include the Victorian titles on February 26 at Lakeside, the national champs being run from March 26 to April 3 in Sydney, and Oceania titles in June in Mackay, Queensland.
Woods took on pole vaulting five years ago and holds the Bendigo Centre record of 4.80m for open, under-18 and under-20 set on January 11, 2020.
He is joint holder of Bendigo's under-16 record of 4.20 with Bendigo Harriers' Jemuel Pryse.
A leap of 4.95m at Box Hill on January 26, 2021 put Woods at top of the Bendigo Residential record list for open, under-20 and under-18.
He also set the residential record of 4.80 for the under-17 age group in December, 2019 in Perth.
To clear 5.05m will not be easy, but dedication to his craft and self-belief have already played a big part in the journey by James Woods to being among the best in the country at such a testing event.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.